Before this weekend, what we knew transpired at Baylor University regarding Art Briles' football program and a multitude of covered-up rape and sexual assaults was a shitshow that encapsulated everything wrong with our priorities when it comes to bigtime college athletics and entitlement.
Then this weekend, the depraved story, somehow, got even shittier.
The sexual assault scandal that took down Baylor University's president and revered football coach also found a problem with a bedrock of the school's faith-based education: a student conduct code banning alcohol, drugs and premarital sex that may have driven some victims into silence.
Investigators with the Pepper Hamilton law firm who dug into Baylor's response to sexual assault claims determined the school's rigid approach to drugs, alcohol and sex and "perceived judgmental responses" to victims who reported being raped "created barriers" to reporting assaults. Some women faced the prospect of their family being notified.
"A number of victims were told that if they made a report of rape, their parents would be informed of the details of where they were and what they were doing," said Chad Dunn, a Houston attorney who represents six women who have sued Baylor under the anonymous identification of Jane Doe.
The AP story goes on to focus on one of the women who, when she alerted the university to her rape as the reason she started drinking alcohol, was cited for her behavior while told there was nothing Baylor could do about her rapists.
"I was told by many Baylor staff that they couldn’t do anything for me because my assault was off campus, yet they had no problem punishing me for my off-campus drinking," the woman said.
Did Art Briles know everything that went down while he was hed coach of the Baylor Bears football team? Of course not. Did he know enough? You're damn right, he did. He knew about about Sam Ukwuachu's past and took him on anyway. Multiple other players on his program were involved in incidents he was aware of. He did nothing to speed up the process of justice nor did he punish some of those players following accusations and arrests. He, his program, and his university hid behind every law, procedure, and religous doctrine they could in the name of building a winning football program.
He wasn't the ultimate decison-maker but he had enough power and influence to do the right thing had he wanted to. He didn't.
Fuck Art Briles.
If you think what Joe Paterno did was bad, Art Briles is right on the same level.
So, the reason you're reading about all of this on a Syracuse site is because our current head coach, Dino Babers, spent four years at Baylor as an assistant for Briles. From a football perspective, this is a good thing considering the on-field product was some of the most exciting and productive offenses the sport has seen in a long time. What he learned there as a coach is invaluable to what the Syracuse Orange hope to accomplish in the next few years.
The flip side is that Babers feels a lot of loyalty to Briles and to the Baylor football program that helped put him in a position to become a head coach. He's made it clear in multiple interviews, noting that Briles was the only person who thought he should take the Syracuse job and that the former Baylor head coach was someone "I listen to a lot."
It's hard not to but he also talks a lot about how Syracuse's offense is going to be similiar to what they ran at Baylor, constantly using it as a starting poiint for discussions.
I understand when he says these things he is only referring to the football side, but maybe that's what makes it all the more critical that Babers completely divorce himself from Briles and Baylor.
Focusing just on the football side is what got Baylor here.
I don't want to hear Syracuse mentioned in the same breathe with Baylor, certainly not now. For all their on-field success, that success will forever be tainted by what was happening (and not happening) behind the scenes. Winning at all costs, even the human ones. Baylor didn't succeed, they failed.
I want to see Syracuse football succeed. I want to see the program win and I want to see it rise to new heights. But I don't want to root for rapists or the people who enable them. I don't even want the insinuation that we're related, somehow, to another university or football team that did that.
If that means Syracuse doesn't win 11/12 games a year or win the ACC, because it wasn't willing to cut corners or protect bad people, then that's something I'm more than happy to live with. I hope you are too.
So, honestly, I don't want to hear about Art Briles anymore. I don't care if he was nice to you and treated his players well. Of course he treated his players well. If only he cared that much about other students at Baylor. If only he cared about female students. If only there were adults in charge of that university instead of cowards hiding behind religion and money.
I'm excited for the future of Syracuse football with Dino Babers. But I don't want to hear about how we're like Baylor. In fact, let's never strive to be the next Baylor ever again.